Doubly Colourful Stories: Anne Skinner and Jason Cordingley at Colinton Arts Edinburgh

Anne Skinner, 'Glittering Sea Coldingham Beach', acrylic on board
Anne Skinner, 'Glittering Sea Coldingham Beach', acrylic on board

Stories from the City, Land and Sea 

Tue - Fri 09:30 - 17:30, Sat 10:00 - 16:00

From: 20 May 2022

To: 18 Jun 2022

Colinton Arts
52 Bridge Road
Edinburgh & the Lothians
EH13 0LQ

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As we welcome the return to normal life, leisure and travel, this is a timely exhibition of spectacular views from Edinburgh to the Outer Hebrides. We may not have had the chance to enjoy a holiday around Scotland, but these evocative paintings by two contrasting artists will surely entice you to plan a trip. 

Anne Skinner graduated with an Honours degree from the ECA followed by a Masters in European Fine Art at Winchester. As well as portrait photography, she specialises in painting seascapes, ‘en plein air’ to capture the changing light and weather.   

The turquoise water and baby powder white sand beaches of Barra and Harris is an artist’s paradise, as illustrated in Emerald Sea, Seilebost Beach, Isle of Harris. We are ‘physically’ immersed right into the tranquil scene, as if you can hear the waves lapping on the deserted shore. Having been here on a hot summer day, the bold colours of sea and sky are not exaggerated: Anne captures the whiff of fresh, clean air as well as a realistic perspective, stretching over to the low hills beyond. 

Anne Skinner, 'Emerald Sea Seilebost Beach', acrylic on board
Anne Skinner, ‘Emerald Sea, Seilebost Beach’, acrylic on board

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely seas and the sky’ – John Masefield.

What is it that draws us to sit on the seashore to experience a meditative sense of calm?   

The lush, machair-fringed sand-dunes of Luskentyre Bay is breathtaking in its languid sense of peace; with the bright clarity of sunlight, wispy fluffs of cloud and slender spit of sand across the rolling tide, all so delicately composed, it’s almost photographic in detail. 

Anne Skinner, 'Emerging Sands Luskentyre Harris', acrylic on board
Anne Skinner, ‘Emerging Sands, Luskentyre Harris’, acrylic on board

‘I work in layers, building up colours and textures, sanding them down again and repeating the process, so that the layers glow through the paint. I paint desolate beauty, vast skies and expansive sandscapes.’ – Anne Skinner

Here, in Glittering sea, Coldingham Beach, the splashing surf crashes on the beach with a translucent, wet spray and a rhythmic, rippling flow of the waves as the grey rain clouds swirl across the sky in this atmospheric panorama.    

Anne Skinner, 'Glittering Sea Coldingham Beach', acrylic on board
Anne Skinner, ‘Glittering Sea Coldingham Beach’, acrylic on board

A palette of dazzling blues – aqua, indigo, navy – with flecks of sage green, to portray the churning, choppy sea and wild white horses at North Berwick with a clear view of the Bass Rock; the whirlpool of water and waves is both majestic in its powerful energy and mesmerising in its painterly precision. 

Anne Skinner, 'Choppy Waves Bass Rock', acrylic on board
Anne Skinner, ‘Choppy Waves Bass Rock’, acrylic on board

Jason Cordingley graduated from Froebel College in the US, later studying for an MA in Art Education, UCL, London and has been Director of Art, Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh since 1997. Inspired by the Scottish Colourists and the Impressionists, in terms of their pioneering technique, his art also aims to offer a background narrative: ‘A sense of drama and fantasy achieved by bold compositions, playing with colour, tone and texture. Scottish scenes, but more importantly they share a balance of closely interlinked relationships between their skies and the land.’ – Jason Cordingley

Conventional city views of Edinburgh are a regular theme here with iconic ‘picture postcard scenes of the Castle, Calton Hill and Princes Street Gardens. Rather than an architectural study of the Castle Rock, churches and spires of the Old Town, this is more of an impressionistic sketch with thick brushstrokes to add shape, tone and texture to this broad panoramic scene.

Jason Cordingley, 'Princes Street Gardens', oil on canvas
Jason Cordingley, ‘Princes Street Gardens’, oil on canvas

In a crisp, cool dramatic landscape across the Pentland Hills in winter time, the icy white snow creates an authentic, bleak and chilly atmosphere, with threatening rain clouds blowing over the jagged peaks.  

Jason Cordingley, 'Pentland Hills, Evening', oil on canvas
Jason Cordingley, ‘Pentland Hills, Evening’, oil on canvas

A shift again to a different genre in a stunning series of seascapes –  in particular, several small scale (20/25/33 cm) works have proved popular with buyers. With a sweep of kingfisher blue, white and coral oils, the ‘apparent’ whirling wind and waves in Sky 5, is reduced to a semi-abstract, Turner-esque composition of luminous colour and movement. 

Jason Cordingley, 'Sky 5', oil on canvas
Jason Cordingley, ‘Sky 5’, oil on canvas

In Sky 6, with striated blocks across the canvas in soft shades of white, azure and grey streaks, there’s an almost invisible divide between the beach, sea and sky. Most effective are the splish-splash of waves on the rocky shore, billowing clouds, and perhaps, there’s a sharp shower of rain falling here beneath the glowing light at sunset. 

Jason Cordingley, 'Sky 6', oil on canvas
Jason Cordingley, ‘Sky 6’, oil on canvas

And then take a second trip to the East Lothian coastline where Cordingley presents his own contrasting view of the Bass Rock, this time almost lost out at sea under an inky-black evening sky.  From the viewer’s perspective, as if standing on the beach, observe the masterly technique to convey shimmering shafts of the dying light, glistening on the sand and seaweed-strewn rocks. 

Jason Cordingley, 'Bass Rock', oil on canvas
Jason Cordingley, ‘Bass Rock’, oil on canvas

 And finally, a magical story to show the perennial appeal of Scottish seascapes. The day before the opening of this exhibition, as the manager Lesley Briggs and her team were hanging the paintings, a visitor from Australia was passing the gallery and spotted ‘Billowing Clouds, Eoligarry Beach, Isle of Barra’ in the window. Her family have connections to the island so this seascape was a perfect memento of her vacation to purchase and take home to Melbourne!  

Australian buyer of an Anne Skinner seascape of Barra
Australian buyer of an Anne Skinner seascape of Barra

With grateful thanks to Vivien Devlin for this review.

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